Columbus Blue Jackets (4-8-0) at Carolina Hurricanes (3-6-2), 7 p.m. (ET)

( – The Columbus Blue Jackets lost another key piece of
their lineup, but the hobbled club hopes to end a six-game slide on Friday
when it visits the suddenly streaking Carolina Hurricanes for the finale of a
home-and-home set.

The Blue Jackets have been beset with injuries since even before this season
began. The latest absence plaguing Columbus, however, is due to suspension
as defenseman Jack Johnson will miss tonight’s test as part of a three-game
ban for his illegal check to the head of Carolina’s Jiri Tlusty.

The hit in question occurred in the third period of Carolina’s 4-2 road
victory on Tuesday. Although Johnson’s check on Tlusty was not deemed to be
late, it received the league’s attention because the forward’s head was the
primary point of contact.

Tlusty, who leads Carolina with six goals this season, left the game and did
not return. He was able to skate on Wednesday and is questionable for
tonight’s contest.

Although Johnson is out until he’s eligible to return on Nov. 14 against
Philadelphia, the Blue Jackets are happy blueliner James Wisniewski is ready
to come back tonight from a broken finger. Wisniewski, who has three assists
this season, has only missed three games with the injury.

Even though Wisniewski is probable to return on Friday and forwards Boone
Jenner and Matt Calvert came back from injuries on Tuesday, the Blue Jackets
are still far from being healthy. Among the key Columbus players still missing
in action are starting goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and forwards Nathan Horton,
Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov.

The Blue Jackets have lost all six games during their current slide in
regulation, giving the club its first 0-6-0 stretch since Nov. 10-20, 2006.
Columbus hasn’t gone without a point in seven straight games since Nov. 11-25,

Carolina, a team that has experienced its share of injury woes this season,
has opened November with three straight victories after going winless (0-6-2)
during the first month of the season. The Hurricanes have outscored the
opposition by a 10-4 margin while picking up their first three wins of

The ‘Canes jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening period on Tuesday and never
relinquished the lead. Justin Faulk scored a critical short-handed goal in the
second period and Cam Ward made 17 saves to post the win.

Zach Boychuk, Riley Nash and Eric Staal also scored against the Blue Jackets,
with Staal’s empty-net tally securing the victory with 12 seconds remaining in
the third period.

“It always feels good to win. Put a little bit of a streak together, doesn’t
matter what time of year, it feels good and gives the guys energy,” said
Carolina head coach Bill Peters.

Columbus trimmed the deficit to 3-2 on Nick Foligno’s second goal with 5:23
remaining in the third period, before Staal salted it away with his empty-

“Finally had some energy when we scored to make it 3-2 and we start to play
more inspired hockey. Out-battled, out-skated for most of the game,” said
Columbus head coach Todd Richards.

Curtis McElhinney stopped 33 shots in the loss. McElhinney has struggled this
season, going 0-3-0 with a 4.08 goals against average and .877 save percentage
in four starts. Rookie Anton Forsberg could get his second career start in the
rematch versus the Hurricanes.

Ward will start again for Carolina. Ward beat the Blue Jackets on Tuesday for
the first time in six career games in this matchup.

The Hurricanes have won three of four in this series, but Columbus still has
eight wins over the past 11 encounters. The Jackets have won four of their
last five in Raleigh.

Carolina is 2-1-1 as the host this season, while Columbus is sporting
identical 2-4-0 records at both home and on the road.